Going Green in Tech Part 3: Sustainable IT Management

Feb 1, 2024 | Uncategorized

Amongst the myriad considerations business owners and managers need to consider, a heightened framework of responsibility for managing IT equipment sustainably has become an imperative for companies aiming to reduce their environmental footprint and optimise resource usage.

This involves ensuring not only that proper disposal methods are reviewed and considered, but also adopting practices that extend the lifespan of IT assets and ultimately reduce the need for disposal

It’s a lot to consider, and to help decision-makers navigate the various available options, we’ve compiled a range of helpful tips and simple strategies below to assist with the process to maximise efficiency and minimise waste.

 

Cascading Older High-Performance Machines

One effective strategy for sustainable IT management is cascading older high-performance machines to different departments where there is a lower demand for the high-performance specifications.

There are different ways that cascading machines can be implemented:

 

Performance-Based Reallocation

An older high-performance workstation used for graphic design or software development can be repurposed for less demanding tasks, such as administrative work or document processing within the organisation.

 

Performance based upgrades

Additionally, a minimal priced upgrade can improve the performance of an existing machine making it useful for other tasks as well as extending its usefulness. Typically extra RAM memory, or a modern hard drive will provide a performance boost at a fraction of the cost of replacement. These improvements are quick to implement and can be redeployed to other machines at a later date, so their value can be further realised.

 

Departmental Cascading

Transfer equipment within departments based on usage patterns. For instance, a high-end laptop previously used by a project manager could be cascaded to a sales team member who may not require the latest specifications.

 

Virtualisation

Convert older physical servers into virtual machines, allowing them to continue serving a purpose in a virtualised environment, even after their physical counterparts are retired.

By strategically reallocating machines based on their remaining capabilities, businesses can extend the useful life of their IT assets and minimise the need for premature replacements. This approach not only saves costs but also reduces electronic waste.

 

 

Laser Printers for Cost-Effective Printing

Whilst many businesses are aiming to go paperless, or as close to, in the coming years, there are still many businesses that rely on printers to create documents for internal or external use.

Investing in high-quality laser printers can be a sustainable solution for businesses that rely on printing.

Laser printers offer a number of significant benefits when it comes to creating more sustainability, including:

 

Less Maintenance

Laser printers generally require less maintenance compared to inkjet printers. They don’t have printheads that need cleaning or replacement, reducing downtime and the need for frequent interventions.

 

Durability and Reliability

Laser printers are built with durability in mind. The quality of parts used in their construction reduces the likelihood of mechanical failures, but if there is an issue they usually have replaceable components available as “kits” which can be easily swapped out.

 

Energy Efficiency

Laser printers are often more energy-efficient than some other types of printers. They use less power during printing, contributing to lower operational costs and a smaller environmental footprint.

 

Conservation of Resources

The efficiency of toner usage in laser printers is higher than the ink efficiency in inkjet printers. Toner cartridges tend to last longer and produce more pages before requiring replacement; they also have longer shelf lives and availability long term.

While laser printers may have a higher upfront cost, the long-term savings on consumables and maintenance make them a cost-effective and eco-friendly choice.

Additionally, laser printers often produce prints at a faster rate, enhancing overall office efficiency.

 

Ensuring Certified Disposal

Proper disposal of outdated IT equipment is crucial to prevent data breaches and environmental harm. When retiring old machines, businesses should insist on a certificate of destruction from certified e-waste recycling facilities.

This ensures that sensitive data stored on devices is securely erased, meeting privacy compliance standards. Some organisations offer a data wiping service, whilst others will do a complete physical destruction of the device, but in either case certification should be obtained.

By partnering with reputable e-waste recycling providers, companies contribute to responsible electronic waste management, preventing hazardous materials from entering landfills and promoting the recycling of valuable resources.

Before choosing an e-waste disposal company, it’s essential to check their certifications, compliance with environmental regulations, and reviews from other businesses that have used their services.

Certifications should include:

 

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations Compliance

In the UK, companies involved in the disposal and recycling of electronic waste must comply with the WEEE Regulations. This framework outlines responsibilities for producers, distributors, and waste management facilities, ensuring the proper collection, treatment, recycling, and disposal of electrical and electronic equipment.

 

ISO 14001: Environmental Management System (EMS)

ISO 14001 is a globally recognised standard for environmental management systems. Many e-waste disposal companies in the UK seek ISO 14001 certification to demonstrate their commitment to minimising the environmental impact of their operations.

 

Environmental Agency Waste Carrier Registration

Waste carriers in the UK, including those involved in transporting electronic waste, are required to register with the Environment Agency. This registration ensures that waste carriers comply with legal requirements and environmental standards.

 

Recycling Association Membership

Membership in the Recycling Association or other relevant industry associations in the UK can be an indicator of a company’s commitment to ethical and responsible e-waste recycling practices.

 

Approved Authorised Treatment Facility (AATF) Status

An AATF is a facility authorised by the Environment Agency to treat electrical and electronic waste. Businesses seeking e-waste disposal services in the UK may prioritise working with AATFs to ensure compliance with regulatory standards.

 

Refurbishing for Bulk Buyback

Some companies specialise in refurbishing old IT equipment for bulk buyback. By participating in such programs, businesses can recover some of their investment while contributing to the circular economy.

Refurbished equipment that meets certain performance standards can be resold, extending its useful life and reducing the demand for new manufacturing.

This approach not only helps to minimise electronic waste, but also allows companies to recoup some of the initial investment in their IT assets, making it a financially sustainable practice.

 

Donating to Charities

Donating outdated but still functional IT equipment to charities is a socially responsible and sustainable way to manage electronic waste.

Whilst many non-profit organisations, schools and community centres can benefit from receiving donated computers, laptops, and other devices. Some organisations now specialise in supplying IT equipment to charities and non-profits, they can take seemingly outdated and unsuable equipment and repurpose it, they also harvest usable parts from equipment to build functioning machines, further reducing waste.

Before donating, it’s essential to ensure that the equipment is in good working condition, that all sensitive information has been removed and that the equipment has been reset to factory settings, allowing the new user to set it up as they need.

Additionally, organisations can collaborate with charities to provide necessary technical support, ensuring that the donated devices serve their intended purpose.

Creating a sustainable strategy for managing IT equipment lifecycles may seem like a real challenge, but by considering and implementing the above strategies we believe your business will both enjoy internal value and benefit, and offer the same to external organisations.

Find out more about sustainable IT practices, call us today on 01223 834844.

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